EPRC asks for moratorium on vacation rental permits in Eastsound

The number of vacation rental buildings served by Eastsound Water District has almost quadrupled in five years. There were 40 in 2014 and are 150 in 2019. Eastsound Planning Review Committee is requesting San Juan County Council adopt a moratorium on issuing vacation rental permits. They cite the fact that 68 percent of recent housing has been for non-residents. The volunteer committee adopted the following resolution at their May 2, 2019 meeting. 

Resolution for Adoption of a Moratorium on the Issuance of Vacation Rental Permits

WHEREAS, the number of Vacation Rental Permitted buildings served by the Eastsound Water District has grown from 40 in 2014 to 150 in 2019; and WHEREAS, 68% of recent housing growth in San Juan County has been for non-resident occupancy; and

WHEREAS, a substantial majority of multiple recent housing developments in the Eastsound Urban Growth Area (UGA) have been converted immediately into vacation rentals following their construction; and

WHEREAS, the lack of long term rentals and affordable housing on Orcas has already reached a crisis level that has affected the health and equity of our community and caused businesses to suffer a drastic shortage of employees; and

WHEREAS, it is the responsibility of the Eastsound Planning Review Committee under the Growth Management Act (GMA) to plan for 50% of future projected population growth on Orcas Island to be accommodated in the Eastsound UGA; and

WHEREAS, if these trends remain unchanged, it will be impossible to fulfill the GMA’s requirements and maintain the socioeconomic diversity of our community;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that it is the recommendation of the Eastsound Planning Review Committee that the San Juan County Council pass an immediate moratorium on the issuance of Vacation Rental permits within the Eastsound Subarea for a period of 12 months;

RESOLVED FURTHER, it will be the responsibility of the San Juan County Council, the Department of Community Development, and the Eastsound Planning Review Committee to collectively use the period of this moratorium to hold necessary public meetings and develop a functional long-term solution that balances the needs of local housing and business enterprise in the Eastsound Subarea.

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